Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, is the beginning of 10 days of soul searching and repentance. The themes of the High Holy Days are meant to create a sensitivity and appreciation for the precious significance of everyday existence. For all of us, focusing on human mortality and the factors that wreak havoc upon human lives heightens sensitivity to the deadening effects of habit and routine. We often deceive ourselves into believing that we can successfully defer living the kind of lives we consider worthwhile until some future time. This attitude is self-deceptive. It ignores the real consequences of present patterns of behavior which can weaken and ultimately extinguish one’s natural capacity to live life deeply and seriously. It also deprives us of savoring the fullness of life in the present moment. It is good for all of us to have periods of time when we can examine our deepest longings and correct the course of our lives.
Guide us, O God, on the true path of life.
When events prompt us to reflect on life and its meaning, let us not put it off but make time to think and pray. Give an apple or some honey today as a symbol of your hope for the wellbeing of another in the coming year.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
So as we observe the state of the nation and the world, see their progress and their struggle, we can and we should observe the state of our own being. Not only in terms of how much more we are doing, observing and learning, but also in terms of how much more deeply and sensitively we are living.
Rabbi David Lapin
A key component of Rosh Hashanah preparation is to ask for forgiveness from anyone one may have wronged during the previous year. To whatever extent possible, we want to begin the year with a clean slate – and without anyone harboring a grudge against us. One should also be quick to forgive those who have wronged him.
ABCs of Rosh Hashanah
This festival has evolved through tradition to represent a season of personal and universal renewal. Every human being needs an opportunity to begin again, to wipe out the past and dream dreams about what his or her life can become. . . . We say goodbye to the old time and hello to the new. In the process we say goodbye to our old selves and hello to our new ones.
As we dip our apples in honey, we pray for an additional measure of sweetness. May we continue to grow in our commitment to our faith, our people and community. May all Jews experience blessings in the year ahead, and may the world become a better place for all your children.
Rabbis Bennett Miller & Eric Lankin